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Azumi 2: Attempt For More Plot, But Less Action?

Reviewing: Nippon Herald Films Azumi 2: Death Or Love  |  Rating:
zergfood By zergfood on
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Azumi 2: Death or Love is the sequel to the original Azumi 1, a movie about orphan assassins with incredible skills trained since they were children to kill warlords in feudal Japan that threaten its peace with agendas of war. After the original, only one warlord from their mission still stands, so obviously the ones still alive will have to continue their mission.

Spoiler alert: due to the fact that this is a sequel, it will be impossible for me to avoid spoilers from the first one. Either way, I really recommend watching the first one anyway, since in my opinion it's better, not to mention that you will need it to follow this one and enjoy it better.

Unlike the first one this does a lot poorer in areas such as bad-assery, a feat that was done impressively in the first one especially because of the camera work. You may ask what happened. Well, there's a new director in this one. That's right, Kitamura doesn't direct it anymore. Which is a shame because it would really have made it better.

Obviously, to make this a worthwhile long movie, this last warlord is very well protected so the assassins will have much more difficulties with him than they did in the first one with the others. I noticed that this one also tries (not very well) to focus a bit more on the story rather than just action, but doesn't do so well. Simply put, it is somewhat incoherent -- don't get me wrong, you will most likely make sense out of this movie, but the things are put in a sequence that simply doesn't make one say "oh yeah that's it" but rather looks a bit cheap.

The first part, however, seems ok even if it doesn't have that many fights -- mind you, action is the center of movies like Azumi so it's why I'm focusing on that. Also there are many new characters introduced but the acting isn't quite as good as in the first one. Unfortunately they (the writers) decided to make most of them die; I understand they may want to make it real or unexpected, but lack of proper character development really hurts (it's not as bad as I make it sound like mind you). Pity the ending would have been better if more characters survived, right now it is a bit... bland.

Chiaki Kuriyama will appear in this movie by the way, though not as much as I would have liked. Heck, I was even disappointed how quick the whole thing ended and with a twist (I'm not gonna spoil it more though).

Shusuke Kaneko, the new director, doesn't really know to film a badass. I mean, yeah Azumi may swing her sword, kill with style and all that... but it just looks badass, but never feels badass unfortunately. I blame it on the poorer camerawork. (don't get me wrong, it's not THAT bad, just worse than the first)

Then there's the villains -- unlike the first one this has more "anime" type of villains: one huge guy with a two-bladed sword that can swing and throw it like a boomerang (and yes it does return back); slashing everything in its path. Let's just ignore the physics for a moment because it is somewhat cool to see (good) Ninjas getting slashed with it (poor ninjas). Then there's the second villain, a strange ninja-like dude who uses poison and traps and whatever other sneaky ninja stuff to get Azumi in a trap. I will not spoil the outcome of this fight entirely.

The "last battle" is a poor attempt at trying to emulate the awesome big battle at the end of the first movie. It feels much cheaper although still may make you think it's a bit awesome, it comes nowhere near the first one. It also ends somewhat quick, and basically, that's also where the ending is taking place -- oh with the exception of killing the last warlord but that's really not that impressive.

The music is different than the first one: more classical type of soundtracks, not so much trying to be unique. It still is nice, the fighting one isn't as good, but it's a good piece to listen to and fits the movie well. One thing I am annoyed is that, seeing how I have the first one's soundtrack, it really is a shame that I couldn't find the soundtrack to this one anywhere -- I'm not even sure it was released, which is a pity. Oh and there's no rock-mix anymore, just orchestral; it has its good moments but no memorable "theme".

Summary:

Overall I think it was somewhat above average anime-like action flick, not great like the first one, but definitely worth a watch if you are a fan of the first one... and even if you aren't, it's not terrible, but at least do watch the first one before; just for continuity, otherwise it may really suck bad.

I give it 3.9 just because the first one was good and it is a sequel to it; on its own I'm not sure if it would stand like that, but it is still pretty decent so it's worth a watch in my opinion.